The Coronado Farmers Market is the perfect place to grab unusual food items you wouldn’t otherwise see. Rare and unheard of fruit and vegetables are constantly waiting patiently for curious buyers to purchase. Sometimes, though, new food can be intimidating. Each month, I’ll pick a somewhat unpopular or rare food and write about it, with the hope that I’ll convince you to try it out. Last month we explored the sweet and unusual loquat. This month, we kiss the bitterness of grapefruit goodbye and welcome a sweet and mild rare citrus.
Grapefruit can be an acquired taste. It has a strong acidic flavor that often leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Grapefruit lovers often douse their pink- or white-fleshed fruit in sugar to avoid those puckered lips. But one farmer at our market is selling a simpler solution for those sour faces—the pomelo.
The pomelo is the largest citrus in the world,” farmer Dan Lammers said. “It’s related to China.”
The pomelo is sometimes referred to as a Chinese grapefruit, but is much, much milder than any grapefruit you’ve ever tasted. Its flesh is pale yellow or white, with a bright yellow rind, although green pomelos are not unheard of. There is usually little fruit, as the pith (that bitter white substance between the fruit and the rind) is extremely thick. Lammers describes the flavor of the pomelo like “a sweet grapefruit,” although technically, it is not a grapefruit.
In fact, grapefruits were made from pomelos. And you know those little guys we call tangelos? They’re a hybrid of pomelos and tangerines. While pomelo hybrids vary from snack-size small to medium size, the pomelo, itself, is a hefty fruit. All of Lammers pomelos compare to that of a large cantaloupe. Lammers said he’s grown a couple to their full potential.
“These fruits get as big as five and a half pounds,” Lammers said. “About six years ago, we had two fruits that weighed five and a half pounds each. They were larger than a soccer ball.”
Aside from their sweet, refreshing flavor and considerable weight, pomelos also have special significance, specifically in Chinese culture.
“If you give someone in China a pomelo for the Chinese New Year, you will be their friend forever,” Lammers said.
This week, give pomelos a try, even if you think you don’t like grapefruit. Try out your luck and buy two and make a new friend.
*It should be noted that those taking cholesterol-lowering medication should limit or altogether avoid grapefruit consumption, as it can interfere with the liver’s ability to metabolize these medications. Pomelos may have the same effect, so eat with caution if on any cholesterol medication.
Try It Out
Why: It can ease you into the world of grapefruit.
When: Now! The last of Lammers pomelos have just about a week left.
How: Enjoy the fruit as you would a grapefruit—without all of the sugar on top. Or segment and toss with some spinach and avocado. You could even try it on some white-fleshed fish. In some countries, like Thailand, people dip segments in salt or a mixture of salt, sugar and chiles. Be adventurous and candy the peel.